Beerage - All Change
[This follows on from the recent articles:
- Industry Watch
- Brewery & Pubco News]
The churn in breweries continues...
The smallest ones, producing the most interesting beers, are gradually growing
and filling niches created by bigger outfits.
- City of Cambridge - hopefully expanding to a new brewery site.
- Lidstones - finding new guest beer opportunities in an ever-increasing area,
in addition to the roaring success of the
- Milton - also finding many guest beer opportunities in a wide area.
Their latest beer, Babylon (4.4%), was launched at Peterborough Beer Festival and
has proved popular at the regular outlets in Cambridge, e.g. the Live & Let Live,
the Kingston & the Cambridge Blue.
The medium-sized ones are growing by sales, acquisition and merger, with the
largest ones nearly in the national brewer category.
It is these who are setting the pace for traditional beer and pubs.
J.D.Wetherspoon - although a pubco, is setting the agenda for popular in-town bars with a serious committment to real ale.
The chain has ambitious expansion plans.
However this development is at the expense of serious public order problems.
Also there are on-going problems in the chain with short measure and indifferent beer quality.
- Bateman - very successful in guest beer market.
- Shepherd Neame - trying to expand.
- Hall & Woodhouse - beat Shepherd Neame to buying King & Barnes for its pubs.
They plan to close the brewery in due course.
The MD of Sheps was quoted in The Times as saying he would have closed the K&B brewery,
in spite of his earlier assurance that he needed the capacity.
- Greene King - has acquired smaller regionals for their pubs;
highly successful in free trade sales.
- Wolverhampton & Dudley - has acquired smaller regionals mainly for their pubs but is now a takeover target itself.
The large national breweries are tending to specialise in various ways,
based on their interests in breweries, pubs, restaurants, hotels and other leisure
facilites such as health clubs.
Interests are being split up and sold off, with the brewing arm
reducing the range to just very bland and fizzy beer - dropping off the end of the real ale brewery conveyor belt.
Examples of the leisure industry:
So the old beerage is now down to Scottish & Newcastle, Carlsberg-Tetley and Interbrew.
Of those, only Interbrew seems to be genuinely committed to real ale - such as the classic draught Bass.
- Bass - sold brewery to Interbrew (Belgium) and now concentrating on pubs, restaurants and hotels.
- Whitbread - sold brewery to Interbrew and now concentrating on pubs, restaurants and leisure.
- Scottish & Newcastle - selling larger hotels to concentrate on brewing, pubs, restaurants and budget hotels;
buying European breweries.
- Carlsberg-Tetley - concentrating on brewing across Europe.
- Allied Domecq - having sold its pubs, now much reduced (off-licences, spirits, Dunkin' Donuts)
and trying to take over Seagram's drinks interests.
- Greenalls - having sold its pubs, now rebranded as De Vere Hotels (e.g. the University Arms).
[In January 2001 the DTI ordered Interbrew to sell Bass Breweries.]
S&N's latest wheeze is a draught version of the classic bottled Newcastle Brown but served even colder than
a chilled bottle. Since chilling disguises flavour, what does that say about its taste?
Paraphrasing the Beer Hunter Michael Jackson's
when did you last hear of someone going out of an evening for leisure?
ALE Autumn 2000 No. 299
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